West Runton Inspires

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Had a fabulous weekend as I had the honour of speaking at the Annual “Inspire” weekend which is the gathering of the leaders of the West Runton Holidays. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the weekend with the ‘family’ of leaders who are so passionate about the camps that they offer. I was asked to explore Discipleship and delivered four muses on the subject and led to great conversations around the subject … relating to leaders, young people and the camp context.
The Venue was Letton Hall which was an entirely new venue for me. Really fab though for an adult houseparty albeit quite a long way from anywhere. It also boasts a Go Kart Track (It is the venue for three of the West Runton camps) and the boys (I took them with me) loved it.
I promised that I’d upload the powerpoint (it’s only a pointer to the broad themes so use the ‘search’ or e-mail me if you’d like to know more).
Discipleship West Runton Handouts.pdf
I also said I’d link to three of the Most significant books that I cited over the weekend, these are, in numerical order of ISBN code* ….
Practicing Passion by Kenda Creasy Dean
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Contemplative Youth Ministry by Mark Yaconelli
A Million miles in a thousand years by Donald Miller
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* not really

Iron Man 2

Finally got to see Iron Man 2 and it was every bit as good a superhero adventure outing as you’d want to see, building brilliantly on and from Iron Man in 2008.
My synopsis: We join the film to find Tony Stark has achieved much in his now very public guise as ‘Iron Man’; still very much the genius, the self publicist and the maverick. Iron man is a public phenomenen! However Tony Stark is battling to come to terms with the fact that his chest implanted reactor is killing him, whilst simultaneously facing military demands for the technology, an embittered high tech’ equipped enemy and the corrupt boss and resources of a wealthy weapons company.
But Iron Man is not the solo act he thinks he is and friends old and friends unknown rally round, including the wonderful ‘Black Widow’ (Scarlet Johannson) to win the day.

All in all, a larger than life witty and faced paced action movie and visual feast, fab!


the up alpha dog.jpgWatched a few films over my week off. Finally caught up with “Up” with was a perfect family film, managing to combine odd and surreal characters (especially the animals) and a GREAT story to produce a visually spectacular and touching film.
Also saw Michael Clayton which proved to be an intelligent and gripping thriller. Great performances by George Clooney and Tom Wilkinson.
My household though are looking forward to a couple of sequel offerings, Nanny McPhee and OF COURSE Toy Story 3.
I was amused by this Trilogy Meter and look forward to Toy Story 3 taking its place in the rankings shortly.
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So, a couple of weeks ago I finally got round to watching the film Juno! I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Reviewing it is complex though as it will really depend on what angle you are looking at it from, e.g screenplay, handling of issues involved, accuracy etc etc. I also think it’s quite annoying when a reviewer reveiws a film from a standpoint which the director never intended to take. (A bit like attacking a coffee cake recipe on the grounds it couldn’t be eaten with Spinach or wasn’t on-message with healthy eating)
So, I enjoyed Juno as a piece of entertainment. I liked Ellen Page (Juno) and Michael Cera (Bleeker) enormously and thought this film was a great offering in the ‘teen movie’ genre. It was actually an interesting story and explored a range of relational dynamics. Like most movies though, the values running through it and its coherence with reality need some reflection.
Anyway, the best thing about the movie has been that it has led to some important/fun/useful/interesting conversations with young people about sexuality and relationships. Conversations that may well not have happened without the fact we arrived at them via discussing films and in partcular Juno.

About a course!

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I re-watched “About a Boy” last night (after Andrew Root used a clip from it in connection with “Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry”), it’s a great film! I was then musing about how much potential inpsiration, training and reflection, that was relevent to youth work/ministry, the film contained. Which got me thinking further, what other films would/should you include in a media based course on youth work/ministry practice?

I like the idea of a course that revolves entirely of:

  • Watch the film
  • Discuss & Analyse
  • Reflect & Explore
  • Apply insights to/against practice

I think I really like the idea of working with film as it is more likely to encompass reflection with our whole being, for some of us who exist more naturally as Logicians, this could be dynamite.

PS: Go and re-watch (or watch) “About a Boy”
(I know it’s entertainment that is a glossy and sanatized feel good version of reality BUT there is something really really amazing embedded in the unfolding story)

Iron Man

Went to see Iron Man last night and loved it. Super Hero films, in my opinion, fall into one of two categories, either great or BAD. The bad ones just don’t quite cohere, take themselves too seriously, too flippantly or just fail to work. Iron Man is definitely in the ‘great’ category though, great film and great fun.
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Robert Downey Junior plays the role of ‘Stark’ brilliantly. The characters’ journey from the playboy genius CEO of a weapons company to his role as Iron man is handled well and within the slightly different realms of Superhero films, credibly. The film delivers all the required narrative and background creatively without long unnecessary dialogue or contrived explanations. The effects are fantastic, particularly Stark interacting with the 3D CadCam design …. and the flight sequences. Can’t say too much more without spoiling the film for you WHEN you go and see it!
IMHO, It’s a huge, fun and cool film. Right up there with Batman Begins and Spiderman 2.

A Summer of films

I saw some films over the summer and having a spare moment, thought I’d give you the Youthblog cine-summary of what I thought:
surfs up.jpgSURF’s UP: A great Mockumentry style story that follows surfing anti hero and slacker, Cody on a journey from his Antartic home to the world Penguin surfing championships. Surreal at times, touching, fun and a wonderful tribute to surfing. I loved this film! The CGI is awesome but more importantly the documentry style of interview and camera work is genius. Kinda predictable in it’s story but at the same time, highly original in it’s rendering. Go See!
bourne ulti.jpgThe Bourne Ultimatum: Jason Bourne find the ‘Blackbriar” piece of the jigsaw and goes on to completes the picture, surviving no-end of threats on the way with some very cool and highly intelligent strategic moves as well as his usual physical supremacy. The film was clever, witty at times and a highly paced thriller. It was the MOST exhausting film I have ever watched! The combination of the frenetic pace and rapidly moving hand-held camera work was quite tiring (although extremely engaging). If you liked the first two, you’ll love this one!
mrbean.jpgMr Bean’s Holiday: For once Mr Bean comes up trumps and wins both a camcorder and a trip to the South of France. Not surprisingly though the journey does not got to plan and he battles to master a culture, a language and transport problems armed only with a compass and absurd Bean like initiative. I expected to hate this film but actually loved it. It’s upbeat, positive and witty with a really great life affirming ending. The film could have been awful but by having a genuine story wedded to Mr Bean’s visual comedy that played with hope as well as the inevitable bad luck was good fun and at times quite touching. Not going to be everyone’s cup of tea BUT as a comedic family film, Nice!

Spiderman 3 (more)

‘Following the Spiderman 3 reviews posted by Youth Ministers, Spidey’s
film career was effectively over. His income now being more or less
reliant on Street entertaining’
Darren left a comment agreeing that SM3 that it wasn’t as bad as all that AND to say he’s written a discussion guide for the film, well worth a look and here it is!
Less usefully BUT quite funny (especially the EMO observation) is this list of what we learn from Spiderman 3!

Hot Fuzz

hf.jpgI went to see Hot Fuzz last night and for the most part thought it was brilliant. I haven’t seen Shaun of the Dead so I guess I’m playing catch up on this style of comedy but the graphic ‘comic’ horror violence took me a bit by surprise and I’m not sure I was entirely comfortable with it, BUT I guess the squirm factor is one of the films deliberate aims.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were absolutely outstanding and had an amazing cast of actors backing them up. The story as it unfolds melds reality and implausibility brilliantly, the writing is great. The film is an odd mix of laughter, absurdity and genuinely touching moments, it has a great storyline that evolves (or descends) into an extraordinary ending with the film gathering pace all the way. It’s strange but compelling!
Violent: Yes
Bad Language: Yes
But overall a thumbs up for Ealing Comedy meets Horror wrapped up in Theatre of the Absurd.